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A Bright New Era

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It’s over. The Reaper War is over but at a cost. Billions perhaps trillions dead, synthetic life destroyed, the mass relays ripped apart but the biggest cost of all… the death of the galaxy’s greatest hero Commander Jara Shepard. For many the Commander’s death is a pain that will never ease but for one especially that pain and grief is more than anyone else’s. Liara T’Soni, Shepard’s bondmate.

“The Normandy has been asked to return to the Sol System” Admiral Hackett addresses the remaining crew of the Normandy over vidcom as they stand in grief. He knew that they would be forever changed by what had occurred and what they had lost especially their commanding officer “I understand this is a painful time but we must begin the rebuild” Ashley Williams, the new commanding officer of the Normandy, looks around at the despondent crew she had unwantedly inherited. James and Steve didn’t voice the want to return to Earth as they had fervently done previously and if Ashley was being honest with herself she didn’t want to return either but orders were orders. Ashley casts a soft glance at Liara, who was being supported by Garrus and Tali; she needed time to grieve; they all needed it.

“With all due respect Admiral we’ve just lost our Commander” Hackett, at least, has the good grace to dip his head. Ashley takes a deep breath and shakes her head “We’ve lost our friend, our comrade… And Liara has lost her bondmate and best friend we all need time to process this”

“And I understand that Lieutenant Commander but I too have lost people I care about; right now we all need to pull together and rebuild for the future that they have sacrificed their lives for” Ashley closes her eyes, a lone tear rolling down her cheek. Deep down she knew Hackett was right “Shepard wouldn’t want this; she’d want all of you to channel your grieve into reclaiming your futures even-though those futures are now considerably darker without her”

“Damn right they are” James mutters darkly. He hadn’t known the Commander as long as Ashley, Garrus, Tali, Adams and Liara but he had grown to respect her as his commanding officer and as a friend. Without her he wouldn’t have enrolled in the N7 program, he wouldn’t have wanted to better himself.

“The galaxy is darker; it has lost its brightest star and its most valiant protector” Jarvik says softly his battle-hardened exterior soften for a moment. “There isn’t a star in the sky that isn’t weeping” There is a moment of silence as Jarvik’s words sink in. He was right. There wouldn’t be a world or people that won’t feel the loss of Shepard. The galaxy wouldn’t be the same and everyone knew it. The future has been won but it is now darker without the paragon that won it.

18 months later (Thessia. Asari Homeworld)

Samara and Falare step out of the elevator that leads into the penthouse of the Dantius Towers and look around. They had both returned to Thessia not long after the Reaper War had ended and had aided in rebuilding what had been lost. Samara was honoured as a war hero and given a position in the new Asari government; a role she had graciously accepted allowing her to put an end to her duties as a justicar. Falare decided that leaving the monastery was the best option given what had happened there to her sister and what had become of her asari sisters. Thessia had become a more tolerant planet since the Reaper War and accepted Ardek Yakshi back into their society despite the dangers they posed. The mother/daughter pair step further into the apartment and are greeted by Liara playing with a toddler no more than a few months old

“Good afternoon Dr T’Soni” Samara says with a soft smile as she and Falare approach Liara and the toddler

“Samara, Falare I wasn’t expecting you today I was about to put Jara down for her nap” Liara picks up the toddler and kisses the child’s forehead. The child yawns into her mother’s shoulder and snuggles into it as Liara heads into the nursery,

“We didn’t mean to intrude Liara, we’ve just come to check on you and Jara; some of your former crewmates have expressed concern at your lack of communication with them since Jara was born” Liara closes her eyes as she sets her sleeping daughter down in her cot. The deliberate act of severing communications with her friends abroad the Normandy and in various other systems had been discovered and now she had to explain herself.

“I… I suppose I didn’t want the others to know about Jara; I’m not ready to share her with them” Samara and Falare look at each other and follow Liara back into the living room. “I know it’s selfish… given that Jara is Shepard’s daughter but I don’t want her exposed to the world that deprived her of her other mother”

“Jara is still so young Liara” Samara reaches out and puts a hand on Liara’s arm squeezing it softly “Don’t you think she deserves to know her family?” Liara takes a deep breath and looks at the wise former justicar. Samara was right. Ash, Garrus, Tali, James and the others were Jara’s family. They had been there when the galaxy had been at its darkest and they had helped orchestrate the road out of that darkness.

“I sense there is another reason why you’ve cut Jara and yourself off from everyone…” Falare could sense the fear and trepidation within Liara… there was someone or something scaring her

“I-I have received intel from several of my agents that there is a rogue group of former Cerberus scientists known as Hydra emerging from the shadows and that they have acquired Reaper technology in a bid to create a new hybrid DNA of synthetic and organic life… and they’re looking for me…”

“Why?” Samara is alarmed to hear what Liara had revealed. If this was true then the entire galaxy could once again be in mortal danger. A new DNA strand that could adapt and dominate…

“They’re interested in my knowledge of the Protheans… they believe that The Reapers may have succeeded in creating a hybrid specimen of Prothean and synthetic DNA that could be able to survive and adapt almost undetected for thousands of years however there is no evidence to support this so they wanted me to become their head of Prothean Research and they did not like it when I said no…” The anger and dread swell within Samara and Falare; they had to get Liara and Jara somewhere safe, somewhere they could be protected from Hydra but there were next to no options given the state of the galaxy with so many worlds still trying to get back on their feet.

“They know about Jara don’t they?” Samara’s question made Falare’s blood run hot with anger. They daren’t have threatened Jara or they’d be made to suffer the pain of melding with an Ardek Yakshi

“They have threatened to…” Liara covers her eyes with one of her hands as the tears begin to fall. She could not lose Jara but she couldn’t accept Hydra’s offer. She couldn’t be a part of what they were trying to accomplish; in her eyes they were no better than the Reapers.

“You must seek protection Liara. If not for you then for Jara” Samara says implicitly. Hadn’t Liara suffered enough? Was the galaxy firmly pit against her? “Come with us to the Citadel; seek the Council’s protection”

“I can’t go to the Citadel it’s the first place they’d look.” Samara glances at Falare who discreetly taps her omni-tool. “There is nowhere we’d be safe. At least here on Thessia I have my personal protection detail” Samara realises that the asari commandos she had seen patrolling downstairs were there for Liara and Jara’s protection. At least that was something “They have been briefed on those I wish to see yourself and Falare are two of only three on the list, the other being the Asari Counsellor”

“Very well if we cannot convince you…” Samara stands and heads for the elevator slowly followed by Falare; the pair sharing a sly smile. The doors to the elevator opens and there stood Ashley Williams, Garrus Vakerian and Tali’Zorah Vas Normandy.

“If some former Cerberus pyjaks think they can threaten you and that baby Liara then they’ve got another thing coming” Liara looks up startled at the sound of Garrus’s voice. She’s up on her feet and looks at Samara, who was wearing a smug grin. The trio step out of the elevator and walk towards Liara who rushes into Ashley’s arms

“Hey it’s okay we’re here now” Ashley says trying to soothe the crying asari. “Don’t ever do this again T’Soni; we’re your family and family always look out for each other” Liara sobs harder into Ashley’s shoulders and clings to the human lieutenant desperately. Why had she ever thought she could do this without her family?

“So where is your gorgeous baby girl?” Tali asks almost excitedly as Liara untangles herself from Ashley and wipes away the tears
“How did you…”

“Karin never was good at keeping secrets” Garrus says shrugging his shoulders. “Especially after a few ice brandies” Liara chuckles and wipes the last of her tears away. “You could have told us Liara”

“I know but I was grieving and it came as a shock; I’m sorry” Garrus wraps his arms around Liara and hugs her gently as a way of saying her apology was accepted “Come and meet Jara…” Liara pulls away and guides the trio into the nursery towards where her sleeping daughter lay.

“Oh Liara… she’s perfect” Tali couldn’t believe how beautiful Jara was. She could see Shepard in the toddler, her nose for one.

“Where did the name come from?” Ashley asks looking down at the beautiful toddler. Shepard would have been so proud to be this little girl’s mother

“You don’t know?” Liara asks Ashley genuinely surprised that the Lieutenant Commander didn’t know Shepard’s first name

“No…?” Ashley looks between Garrus, Tali and Liara, their faces a picture of disbelief. What was she missing?

“Jara was Shepard’s first name; one of its meanings means strong, another means she enlightens… I thought it was only right to pass the name along” Liara looks down at her daughter and smiles as the toddler turns over to reveal more of her face.

“I guess it is the perfect name for this little one. Shepard would be so proud of you Liara and I know she’d have been a great mom to this one” Before Liara could respond Falare rushes into the nursery panicked

“It’s Hydra they’re here!” Garrus and Ashley quickly draw their sidearms and look at Liara and Tali

“Falare, Tali get Liara and Jara to the Normandy!” Ashley and Garrus rush out to help Samara hold back the strike team Hydra had sent. Liara gathers Jara up into her arms and follows Tali away from the strike team. Thankfully Liara had had a back exit installed in case of any emergencies such as right now

“Tali to Normandy, do you read me?”

“Normandy here I take it you need a pick up?” Joker. Another familiar voice that made Liara feel safer even-though Hydra had found her

“Garrus, Ashley and Samara are busy with Hydra agents; we need an evac now!”

“On my way, hold on Tali” Cortez comes over the comm as Tali, Falare and Liara with Jara in her arms head towards the landing pad as Garrus, Ashley and Samara come rushing after them firing shots as they do.

“Jackasses!” Ashley shouts to the Hydra Team Leader as she shoots him dead centre in the chest. The roar of the Kodiak engines echo above them as Steve brings the shuttle down

“Liara get in!” Tali tells her friend as she draws her gun to cover her and Jara. The young asari hurriedly gets herself and her daughter into the shuttle as Falare and Tali bundle into the shuttle behind her. “You and Jara okay?” Liara nods her head as she clutches her daughter close to her. Garrus, Ashley and Samara follow as they fire at the last foot soldiers

“Steve get us out of here” Ashley sits down exhausted by the showdown. Jara stirs in her mother’s arms after sleeping through the mayhem.

“Aye Aye Lieutenant” The team feels the shuttle leave the ground. Jara looks around her and grumbles. Liara looks down at her baby girl and kisses her forehead

“It’s okay darling, you’re okay” Liara quietly tries to re-assure her daughter as she fusses around in her mother’s arms. “Momma’s here Jara”

“Welcome back Kodiak and welcome home Liara; Dr Chakwas will meet you in the med bay” Joker says over the comms as the shuttle comes into range of the Normandy. Liara takes a deep breath as she nears the only place she has ever felt safe and at home SSV Normandy SR-2.